Fall 2015 Nutrition Challenge Wrap-Up, Winners, Testimonials, Pictures

My performance in WODs and strength has increased ten-fold! I have been PRing left and right!

I am more alert through the middle of the workday.

I’ve definitely noticed a difference in body mass as well, getting leaner!

I felt like I could sustain the energy

I noticed a significant increase in stamina during AMRAPs and 15+ min WODs

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Fall 2015 Nutrition Challenge! This was our twelfth Nutrition Challenge, and you can find past results here:

Below you will find some before and after photos and testimonials from those who completed all eight weeks of the Fall Nutrition Challenge 2015.  I am really proud of the hard work everyone put in – it’s not easy to stay consistent during football and wedding season!  You all approached it with an open mind and a willingness to make positive changes. Big congratulations go out to all of the competitors from our gym.

Like all years, it’s always a difficult task to pick winners.  We consider a lot of factors when choosing a winner, from communication and ability to uphold the guidelines during the challenge, to before and after results based on the measurements, and benefits that go beyond just physical looks and measurements.


We chose 3 winners this year, although it was extremely difficult to choose!  Matt, Hassan, and Jaclyn are the winners of this year’s challenge.  Matt was extremely diligent and consistent with his diet and work outs, and it paid off after only 8 short weeks.  Jaclyn had been eating paleo leading up to the challenge, and over the course of a few months dropped 30+ pounds! I think the challenge helped her find some new energy/balance and make a break-through with her diet.  Hassan was also very diligent about his diet and tracking, and is proof that with the right balance you can lean out while eating MORE food.  All the other finishers also had some amazing results, so congratulations to everyone!

Congratulations again to everyone!!


Collages5Since I have been eating paleo for a while now, I joined this challenge so I could be closer to the C’Ville community. I really wasn’t doing the challenge to lose weight or lean out. I gained a lot of muscle, A LOT. I love that though! It was what I was aiming for. I was trying to see how I could gain muscle while still eating paleo, and I did just that!

My performance in WODs and strength has increased ten-fold! I have been PRing left and right! My clean and jerk went up 15lbs; my snatch went up 20lbs; I can squat 170lbs for 20 reps. It’s been amazing!!!

Though I still get tired around 2:30 (don’t think that will ever change), my energy levels in class and at the box have increased a lot. I am much happier about school and life in general. Because of the challenge and my 6 AM WODs, my body is now used to going to sleep early even though everyone in my dorm is up until 2 AM. I definitely now have a clear routine, and I’m sticking to it.


Paleo is hard, but if I can do it in college, anyone can! You can put your mind to anything, and you will achieve it. This challenge reaffirmed my love for paleo!

I lost about 25 pounds. I lost an inch in my neck measurement, a little over an inch in my waist and over 2 inches in my chest.
Being new to CrossFit, I wanted to engage a healthier way of eating to fuel my workouts. I didn’t want to have to take a lot of supplements or powders, but balance based on healthy foods. The zone based paleo-ish diet that I evolved into was key to doing this. This allowed me to time eating the proper foods to fuel workouts and recovery. I specifically noticed eating a decent concentration of proteins close to the finish of a workout really helped me feel good, especially the next day. I was considerably less sore.
In the beginning of the challenge, I often felt hungry during the day, but as I learned to snack smartly, this definitely improved and now I pretty much feel satiated until 4-5 hours after I eat, with healthy snacks.
The biggest change I have noticed here is that with significant grain based carbs in my diet, I would often feel lethargic. This was especially true after lunch. This has completely gone away which means I am more alert through the middle of the workday. As for sleeping, I have always been a 7-8 hours a night type of sleeper and this hasn’t really changed. I can say that I do feel more tired when I got to bed and fall asleep faster and am wide awake in the morning and ready to take on the day.

I really like cooking, but the taking the time to prepare and shop has always been a huge hurdle. I used the cooksmarts.com site to great benefit, reducing the planning stage down to a few minutes and a couple of button clicks. The other thing that help me was learning what I can buy frozen and in bulk and where to shop. Places like Costco offers great natural wild caught seafood that is frozen. Then I found that Trader Joe’s has great quality, but less selection than whole foods, so I pick up a lot of items there. Finally whole foods fills in the niche items. This approach allows me to lower the grocery bill at least compared to shopping entirely at whole foods, without sacrificing quality of food.

Where to begin?!  I saw so many changes during the 8 weeks, the least of which was weight loss. I think I only dropped 8 pounds during the challenge, but lost almost 3 inches each on waist and hips. I’ve definitely noticed a difference in body mass as well, getting leaner! I’ve been dropping off bags of clothes to Goodwill every week, and rediscovering a wardrobe I’ve held on to for years in the hopes I’d eventually fit in it again!

I was still pretty new to CrossFit when the challenge began, but had already had pretty fantastic results – dropping almost 20 pounds by the time the challenge started. By tracking macros, I was able to understand HOW the food I ate affected my performance. I had already switched to paleo two months prior, but didn’t have a good handle on what to eat/why/when. As a chef, there was the additional challenge of making sure I was eating enough – I’m used to grazing all day, but the first two weeks I really struggled with eating nutritionally dense food that hit my macro numbers. Once I settled in, though, I really noticed a difference in my energy – and no longer felt like I was “eating too much.” From the workouts perspective, being able to do push-ups, pull-ups and more things that I never would have thought I could do has been so inspiring – and keeps me coming back for more every single week.


My energy levels skyrocketed during the tracking period, and I was feeling much better during and after the workouts.  I’ve made a greater effort to get to bed early and up to the gym early every day. I noticed that the weekends when I had several events and less sleep, that I was still able to bounce back SO MUCH BETTER than before. Five-wedding-weekends didn’t leave me utterly and completely spent – instead, I was back at the gym Monday morning!
I’m excited to keep up with the overall principles of the challenge – nutritionally dense foods, watching macro ratios and continuing my CrossFit journey.

I have definitely seen a significant change in my body composition from doing this challenge. I didn’t necessarily lose a lot of weight in pounds but, I have lost three inches all around which feels awesome. I can feel and see it most in the way my clothes fit, and how lean I’ve gotten from doing the challenge.
I work with children with Autism, and just in the first several weeks I felt so much more energy throughout the day. As long as I was eating clean and consistently throughout the day, I felt like I could sustain the energy. In terms of my workouts, I have felt less recovery time, and felt like I could push myself longer and harder than I used to before.
definitely more clarity throughout the day, and a ton more energy!

Doing this challenge has definitely been a great experience. The best part, is that I have definitely appreciated my food, and cooking a lot more in the past 8 weeks. It has become a process that I thoroughly enjoy and is actually relaxing. Nothing beats coming home and cooking some good food that not only tastes good, but makes me feel good. I have learned a new way to approach food and snacking throughout the day, and have a new found love for almonds and grapes! I feel like going back to basics with paleo made me realize how much I don’t need all the extra’s in my diet like processed grains, and sugar, and I feel like this is a lifestyle we could maintain as a family.


It felt like I lost more weight than the numbers indicated at the start and end of the challenge. Regardless, I still leaned out. I didn’t lose enough to change pant sizes (down from 32″ down to 31″) but I did need a belt and my shirts fit noticeably better. Also, abs and hip bones popped out from hibernation which was validation enough for me in terms of the scale not moving too much.

Throughout the day, my moods felt more consistent. I prefer to eat twice a day (lunch and dinner). I find it difficult to eat in the morning and this made it really difficult to hit my macros early on.
I had been eating mostly paleo before the challenge; usually a meal or non-paleo snack every other day or so. Once I shifted to paleo it took me a while to adjust to eating more. Halfway through the challenge, I found protein shakes to be a good substitute for at the very least a late breakfast/early lunchtime snack especially on WOD mornings. Also, snacking on sweet potatoes or plantains (seared in olive or coconut oil 8 min) or grazing from a big Planter’s mix (from Sam’s Club) of blended walnuts, Brazilian nuts, pecans, etc. made things a whole lot easier.
Performance wise, I felt lighter during burpees and could string together multiple muscle-ups more consistently. Very surprised to hit a Clean & Jerk PR (225#) even though the only thing I was doing differently was the challenge.
Energy wise I felt a sluggish at the beginning of the challenge. It took me a while to adjust to eating a lot more than I expected. Tracking and seeing how little I was eating pre and post WOD was enlightening though because maintaining stamina during WODs is my weakest area in CrossFit. I noticed a significant increase in stamina during AMRAPs and 15+ min WODs just by adding a sweet potato or carb heavy snack (sweet potato/plantain) a couple hours before working out.
I also started to sleep better. Never realized how non-paleo food (even if it was the only thing non-paleo thing I consumed all day) could really cause restless sleep.
Challenge is infinitely more manageable if you think of the whole thing as a dietary reset button. By the end of the challenge it definitely felt like I was getting more energy and nutrients out of eating meat and veggies than eating mostly paleo on an inconsistent basis.
I would definitely recommend planning meals in advance. Each week I went in with the intention of just having paleo food available every day during the week but it’s very difficult to not just lean heavily into Chipotle. Honestly, if anyone were considering the next challenge I would recommend setting up a meal schedule of literally anything you want and sticking to it for a week. I imagine it would be a lot easier to just substitute the food with paleo options once you get used to planning meals.
I’ve done challenges at other boxes before but what sets Charlottesville apart is the phases of tracking. I’ve never tracked macros before and I only continued for a week or so after the required phase during the challenge. Since the only thing I’m training for is being able to play my ab xylophone for the ladies poolside during summers, math isn’t something I think I’ll incorporate into my daily (or even weekly) eating habits.
However, the weighing and tracking phase made doing the challenge alone worth it for two reasons. First, it made it a lot easier to save money shopping for the right amount of food. A bag of frozen organic broccoli or peas is like 2 bucks and change at Whole Foods + only take 8 minutes to steam! Second, l got considerably better at eyeballing correct portion sizes of already cooked food. Spoiler alert: did not realize how easy it was to overdue it on fats and undershoot protein.
I would highly recommend:
Snack: Bag of sweet potatoes from Trader Joe’s, (microwave 2 min, split open and eat).
Meal: Chipotle: salad, double meat (I perfer steak/chicken, any of the salsas, and guac).
So Delicious No Sugar Added Coconut Milk Ice Cream.


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I lost a little over 19 pounds and took 3 3/4 off of my waist line

I am more alert and energized than I was on my old diet

I do feel leaner and that my body composition is actively transforming

Eating good foods makes all the difference.

 I felt much more level throughout the day.

I noticed was not craving junk food nearly as often as I used to.

I both performed better and was less sore at the end of the benchmark workouts the second time around.

I pushed myself to try things I wouldn’t normally and it got me out of my comfort zone.

I can do a pull up unassisted now.  Never have I been able to do that.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Lurong Fall 2014 Paleo Challenge! This was our tenth Nutrition Challenge, and you can find past results here:

Below you will find some before and after photos and testimonials from those who completed all eight weeks of the Lurong Paleo Challenge this fall.  I am really proud of the hard work everyone put in.  You all approached it with an open mind and a willingness to make positive changes. Big congratulations go out to all of the competitors from our gym.

For the Lurong Paleo Challenge, we completed a series of benchmark workouts, as well as weekly performance workouts during the middle of the challenge.  This gave us all a chance to experience how changing nutrition might affect workout performance, and everyone showed improvement on the benchmark workouts.

I want to recognize David, who posted the highest point total for any of our CrossFit Charlottesville competitors! Congratulations, David!  Points were awarded based on the daily diet, performance in the benchmark and challenge WODs, overall improvement from the beginning of the challenge to the end, as well as some other factors.

Most importantly, I want to recognize all of the other athletes in our gym who finished the challenge and completed all of the benchmark and performance workouts.  Everyone did an awesome job!  And collectively, everyone made huge improvements across the board with body composition and workout performance.  Taking on an 8-week challenge like this is no small feat, so you should all feel proud of what you accomplished.

You can find the before and after pictures and testimonials below:



When I started the challenge, I expected to lose weight if I stayed faithful to the diet and did the prescribed WoDs, and I lost a little over 19 pounds and took 3 3/4 off of my waist line.  What I didn’t expect was that I would feel so good.  I am now 50 years of age, but after 2 months of eating paleo, I feel like I am in my mid 30s again.  My allergies are significantly better.  I am recovering better from hard workouts (very little joint pain and DOMS).  I also find that I am more alert and energized than I was on my old diet.  This truly has been a life changing experience, and I have no plans on going back to my old way of eating.

The transition to a Paleo diet wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.  I definitely went though a few days where my energy was down a bit, and substituting almond milk for cow milk took a while to get used to, but I discovered that I appreciated ‘cheats” more when I limited them to one meal a week and the improvements in energy and general well-being made up for anything that I was doing without.



This was my first Lurong Living Challenge, but the second Paleo challenge that I participated in at Crossfit Charlottesville this year. I have been eating this way for the past 3 years, but I have increasingly become stricter with my diet since I began Crossfit ten months ago. I lost a tiny bit of weight over the past 2 months, but I do feel leaner and that my body composition is actively transforming.

The diet component that I found most challenging was giving up half and half in my morning coffee (I never thought I would do.)  I did feel like I leaned out more after doing so.  Luckily I found a great coconut based alternative, which I will stick with from now on.  One new thing I added to my diet during the challenge was bone broth in the morning, which I will also continue.

The part of the Challenge that I most enjoyed was the workouts. I really liked being able to see my progress in the three benchmark workouts.  I was happy that I did improve in each of these over the eight weeks. I liked being judged for the workouts to ensure that my form was proper.  I also really enjoyed being able to see where I ranked on each workout in my division. I found the online component motivating.

I began taking deer antler about a month ago, but it is not from Lurong. I am not sure if I am seeing performance benefits because I am taking a few other performance enhancing herbs as well. I do feel that my diet and life style help me to optimize in all areas of my life, including Crossfit. I plan to keep on keepin’ on!



How much weight did you lose?

  • 15 pounds.

How much have you leaned out?

  • 2″ on the waist and hips.

Do your clothes fit differently?

  • Absolutely! I could go down a pant size now. I will slowly transition into new clothes after losing another 5 pounds or so.

How do you feel throughout the day?

  • I’ve eaten non-paleo friendly foods since the conclusion of the challenge and do not enjoy the after effects. I will probably stay away from processed sugars and heavy carbs for the remainder of my days.

How has your performance in workouts changed?

  • WAY improved! The crossfit WODs became far more manageable as the weeks clicked off. I felt less anaerobic devastation.

Did you make improvements on the benchmark workouts during the challenge?

  • I did. In some cases, markedly so.

How have your energy levels changed?

  • The increased energy levels were transparent. I had to eat bad after the challenge concluded to realize the difference. Eating good foods makes all the difference.

What about mental benefits?

  • A bit more calm and at peace.

Anything else you would like to share?

  • Thank you for providing support of this challenge. My perspective is changed forever.



The Lurong Paleo Challenge was my second challenge. I loved the benchmark WODs added to show how clean eating can improve your performance.  It was also exciting to see the changes and improvements I had made on the benchmarks as the the challenge progressed. Although I have only lost 3 pounds on this challenge, I lost another inch off of my waist and hips and continue to lean out and get stronger. The added energy throughout the day from clean eating is/was a definite benefit. I am able to get through the workday without feeling sluggish or sleepy and therefore, thinking more clearly. I have set some new PR’s, in addition to a few toes to bar and I continue to improve. My next challenge is to maintain eating well most of the time, continue to make improvements and possibly compete in a masters level one day…


CINDY MHow much weight did you lose?

  • 10 pounds.  Mostly through my waistline and hips.

How do you feel throughout the day?  

  • I felt much more level throughout the day.  I still had a mid-afternoon slump but it was much less drastic.

How has your performance in workouts changed?  Did you make improvements on the benchmark workouts during the challenge?

  • Unfortunately I couldn’t do any comparisons because I fractured my foot halfway through.

How have your energy levels changed? What about mental benefits?

  • My energy is more level throughout the day.  There were still times when I felt tired, but it was much less frequent than typical and more in cycle with typical body rhythms and sleep cycles.

Anything else you would like to share?

  • I started this in an attempt eliminate foods, that while I enjoy require me to take medication (which I hate).  After two weeks of the challenge I began to eliminate the medication and discovered that my body was doing just fine when all those foods were out of my system.



DANNY BHow much weight did you lose? How much have you leaned out? Do your clothes fit differently?

  • I lost 16.5 pounds. I also dropped at least one size on my belts.

How do you feel throughout the day?

  • I felt great throughout the day. I had enough energy to do everything I wanted to do despite eating a ton of salads.

How has your performance in workouts changed?  Did you make improvements on the benchmark workouts during the challenge?

  • I improved in 2 of the benchmark workouts and basically got the same score in the third. I certainly felt good in all the workouts during that period.

How have your energy levels changed? What about mental benefits?

  • The only mental benefits I noticed was not craving junk food nearly as often as I used to.




I lost about 3 pounds but I was trying to maintain my weight while shedding fat and adding muscle.  I was happy with my results, but they left me eager for more.  I leaned up in my legs while adding some size to my arms, which is what I was looking for.  My clothes do fit differently, but hopefully that continues to change as I put on more muscle.

I feel much better throughout the day with the changes in my day.  My diet has had a big impact on both my energy and my performances in the WODs.  There is something inherently satisfying about eating healthy and that combined with the actual physical benefits of getting rid of processed foods paid dividends.

I made improvements in all three of the benchmark WODs.  I think part of that was because I was working out consistently more often during the challenge but I think it was also due to my changes in diet as well.  I both performed better and was less sore at the end of the benchmark workouts the second time around.

My energy as a law student is generally pretty low so any additional benefit I can get is welcomed.  Eating paleo didn’t so much as give me more energy as it did not make me feel the post-lunch drowsiness that plagued me before the challenge.




I decided to participate in the paleo nutrition challenge despite the fact that I have already been eating paleo for the last 2 and a half years.  I was intrigued by the workout aspect of the challenge and being able to track my progress through the specific judged workouts. Having someone else watching every rep really forced me to focus fully on my form. Now in the gym I have been using lighter weights so I can improve my form and not worry about increasing weight, especially with any squatting movements.  I was able to improve in all the benchmark workouts in either reps or time. But I was most excited with my improvement in kipping pull-ups. I couldn’t even do one until I started the challenge and now I can string a few together. I was also happy with how well I did in the snatch workout, being able to do so many at prescribed weight. I pushed myself to try things I wouldn’t normally and it got me out of my comfort zone.  So even though my body composition didn’t change, I am glad I did the challenge.




How much weight did you lose? How much have you leaned out? Do your clothes fit differently?

  • I lost 17 Pounds.  3 inches off my waist and hips.
  • I feel leaner and think I look better.
  • My wife agrees.
  • I had to buy new pants.  That is awesome!

How do you feel throughout the day?

  • Looking back on it.  I noticed that I do feel better after eating clean than eating junk.  I did notice not feeling as tired or “yucky” after meals.

How has your performance in workouts changed?  Did you make improvements on the benchmark workouts during the challenge?

  • I did improve on the bench marks.  Losing weight has made it easier to move and improved my endurance.  I have not noticed improved recovery time.
  • I can do a pull up unassisted now.  Never have I been able to do that.

How have your energy levels changed? What about mental benefits?

  • I am not sure I have noticed my energy level increasing.  I think it is more steady.  I have noticed at night I am more ready to go to bed and fall asleep faster.
  • I have not noticed any mental benefits (other than self image improving).

Anything else you would like to share?

  • This has been an excellent experience for me.  I am now in the habit of reading ingredient labels, I notice how “yucky” I fell when eating poor quality/bready food.  I am going to continue to try and eat Paleo and high quality foods going forward. 


Awesome work, everyone! 

I feel lean and mean, systems running like a well oiled machine

I started sleeping much better and didn’t always need that second (or more) cups of coffee in the afternoons, even when I woke up before 5 AM for work

I’m not easily winded when going on the 400m and 800m run

Due to the weight loss my performance has changed greatly

I don’t get nearly as tired during workouts and feel like I have more energy

Overall I had great energy, slept soundly and was happy-go-lucky

I was able to gain perspective on the saying “you are what you eat”

The positive benefits have encouraged me to push myself more and try new things

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Spring 2014 Nutrition Challenge! This was our ninth Nutrition Challenge, and you can find past results here:

Below you will find before and after photos and testimonials from those who completed all eight weeks of our Nutrition Challenge this spring.  I am really proud of the hard work everyone put in.  You all approached it with an open mind and a willingness to make positive changes.  It was very rewarding for me to witness this, and I enjoyed working with you all. Most importantly, big congratulations go out to Anna and Karen for winning the Spring Nutrition Challenge!  They both not only did a solid job of sticking to the guidelines of the challenge, but achieved measurable body composition changes.  Everyone who completed the challenge deserves recognition, and you can find their testimonials below.  Again, congrats to everyone who participated, and we hope that everything you learned during the challenge will enrich your life going forward.

For this Nutrition Challenge we teamed up with Arqspin to produce some awesome before and after pictures!  Nathan and Chandler were a huge help, and I appreciate the work they put in to make these great interactive pictures.  You can see before and after spins by clicking on the picture itself or the links at the end of each participant’s testimonial.




I rate my overall experience with paleo strong to quite strong. I lost 15 pounds during the challenge, and let’s be honest, ten of those likely dropped due to the absence of IPAs in my diet. I feel lean and mean, systems running like a well oiled machine. I probably lost a dress size. The greatest impact was my recovery time. Throughout the challenge, I continued my usual workout schedule and played in a couple tennis leagues. I was able to do so without fatigue while seeing improvements in performance. Outside of fitness, Mondays are no longer the bane of existence, and I feel more alert around the usual two o’clock lull. Will I continue strict paleo? No. I like beer, ice cream and pizza too much. I will eat those a little less, though. Further, I plan to incorporate the following:

  1. An awareness of the content of your food. As a general rule, chemicals do not enhance food. In order to maximize your output, though, you must also input balanced amounts of protein, fat and carbs at the right time. For instance, I found the switch from a carb-loaded to protein-centric breakfast extremely valuable.
  2. The accessibility of Paleo. You are just one Google search and a bag of coconut flour (though slightly expensive) away from replacing any of your favorite gluten treats. Except pizza – although even my paleo pizza was surprisingly tasty. As far as time commitment, you can commit as much or as little time as you would like. Very little of what I made took over twenty minutes to prep and most meals had leftovers, which was huge.
  3. Consistency. In the illustrious words of Ice Cube, “It ain’t a track meet, it’s a marathon.” The biggest struggle was adjusting my attitude that claimed, “Eat well and sometimes minimally during the week so you can glutinously gorge yourself on the weekend.” Discarding that attitude, I focused on making meals that interested me regularly and finding ways to satisfy cravings so I could easily say no to treats when offered.
Again, a great learning experience and one that will continue to impact my lifestyle.

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Check out Anna’s Spins from Arqspin!

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The biggest thing that I noticed was an improvement in my energy levels during the day and during my workouts (after an initial slump). Once that slump was over, I started sleeping much better and didn’t always need that second (or more) cups of coffee in the afternoons, even when I woke up before 5 AM for work. More than that, I had fairly consistent energy levels throughout the day. I was surprised by these improvements because I ate “primal” beforehand, but never really thought too much about ratios and timing of nutrients.  Beyond that, I noticed pretty considerable gains in strength and muscle size. My squat and deadlift all improved, and I only use the red band for pull-ups now and can do more skilled movements than before (TTB!). I’ve always struggled with building muscle. My digestive issues got even better and my skin and nails got better, too. As for clothing sizes, I didn’t necessarily drop in size but my tops were definitely fitting looser. My pants fit looser in the waist and tighter in my legs etc., but I’m okay with that! Finally I became a lot better at listening to cues from my body – everything from when to rest or when I could do a bit more to my tendency to eat when I’m bored/tired/stressed instead of when I’m actually hungry. I think my relationship with food has improved considerably.



Check out Christina’s Spins from Arqspin!

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  1. How much weight did you lose? How much have you leaned out?  6-7lb loss, I’ve toned/leaned out more.
  2. How do you feel throughout the day? How has your performance in workouts changed? I’m not groggy in the afternoon and I don’t snack throughout the day. My performance in workouts reflect this as well. I’m not easily winded when going on the 400m and 800m run.
  3. How many dress and / or pant sizes have you lost? Clothes are looser but pant size hasn’t changed.
  4. How have your energy levels changed? What about mental benefits? My energy level is great, more endurance.




  1. How much weight did you lose? How much have you leaned out?

I lost approximately 14 lbs.  I don’t know exactly how much leaner I am but I certainly feel like my muscle mass has increased and my fat levels have dropped.

  1. How do you feel throughout the day? How has your performance in workouts changed?

Interestingly my energy level has been great. I still don’t get enough sleep, but that’s my life. One thing I did was completely cut out diet soft drinks, I was very addicted. I wanted to go cold turkey from them and did so. I was afraid I would have headaches from the withdrawals from caffeine but I never once noticed it. So far I am 9 weeks without a diet soda.  Due to the weight loss my performance has changed greatly. I don’t get nearly as tired during workouts and feel like I have more energy. I believe it is a combination of a much stricter diet in combination with the weight loss and more muscle being built.

  1. How many dress and / or pant sizes have you lost?

I haven’t lost any sizes but my current closes fit much better. In fact, my wife says my XL shirts don’t look so tight anymore.

  1. How have your energy levels changed? What about mental benefits?

As I was saying earlier, my energy levels are great. I do find I need more rest but that is again because of my crazy schedule. As for mental benefits, I am much more positive about myself. I feel better mentally because I am doing something to help myself which makes me think of myself in a better way.

  1. Anything else you would like to share?

Just a big thanks to Scott for his encouragement and for the support along the way. Also, his knowledge was helpful as well as his willingness to take the time each week to help us push through.



Check out Bruce’s Spins from Arqspin!

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The nutrition challenge was an excellent experience for me. I have been doing versions of the ancestral diet for the past six years; first Weston Price and now Paleo for the past 2.5 years. Documenting and measuring my food for the first month of the challenge gave me a lot of insight about how I was eating. I found that I was filling up on good fats, but not eating nearly enough protein or carbohydrates.  The biggest positive change for me was giving up all refined sugar. I quit my daily dark chocolate habit about one month before the challenge and have remained sugar free ever since.

I was initially concerned about the “Zone” portion control and potential hunger, but I actually found that I needed a greater variety and volume of food than I had been eating. After week three I cut my intake to about 1300 calories a day in hopes of shedding weight more quickly. I only remember feeling hungry during a few morning workouts.  Overall I had great energy, slept soundly and was happy-go-lucky.

I lost four pounds, 1.5” off of my hips, and about 1.5 dress sizes during the nutrition challenge. I was initially disappointed that I did not lose more weight, but I see now that I have leaned out a lot and gained quite a bit of muscle. I am happy that I am able to squeeze into some of my pre-pregnancy clothes for the first time in a very long time.

During the last two weeks of the challenge I began to see performance improvements in myself. This encouraged me to focus less on the vanity aspect. I find the guidelines of the challenge sustainable and I continue to follow them (with the addition of a few glasses of wine here and there.) Now that I have been doing this for 11 weeks I actually feel like I have hit the tipping point and I am beginning to see the real changes that I was anticipating.



Check out Dominique’s Spins from Arqspin!

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I joined Charlottesville Crossfit in November of 2013.  The range of fitness and physical challenges captivated me.   This is something that I enjoy and it is never boring!  After losing 15 lbs and hitting a plateau, the nutrition challenge was presented.  I had heard of Paleo and thought it would be too difficult to maintain with children and not to mention costly.   This was not a diet for me but a lifestyle change for my family that needed to take place. Once Scott assigned my specific weekly nutritional goals, I began cooking.   Cooking and preparing my meals ahead and pre packing for the week helped with my busy schedule.  I found that the first week, I was always hungry.  I found myself eating all the time; however, a quick healthy snack or meal on hand was a big help to keep me on track.  Once I was able to get through the first week and get into a manageable routine, I found that I had more energy and felt more focused.  “Goodbye to the midday slump.” I think I realized the benefits of clean eating on my cheat days or when I would started to add some foods back into my diet.  I quickly realized these were the foods that were making me feel bad: bloating, sleepiness, mental- fog and so on, it was all coming back.   I was able to gain perspective on the saying “you are what you eat”.  We choose what we put in our mouth and I will definitely continue the clean eating lifestyle and lead a healthier quality of life.  During the nutrition challenge, I lost 8.7 lbs, 2.5 inches off of my waist, and 3.5 inches off of my hips.   I am able to run further distances without stopping and my box jumps have also improved.   The positive benefits have encouraged me to push myself more and try new things.




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CrossFit Charlottesville is hosting our ninth Nutrition Challenge! This event is open to the public, so come redefine your relationship with food, learn how to cook again, and get in shape before the summer!

Please RSVP via Facebook Event!

At 530 PM on Sunday, April 6th we will host our Nutrition Challenge Kick-off at the gym. Anyone, member or non-member, is welcome to participate; all you have to do is bring $20 in cash for the prize pool. Here are the results from our past challenges:

Then around 6:30 PM we will host a Paleo Potluck Dinner. Anyone is welcome to come to the Paleo Potluck, even if you are not planning to participate in the challenge! Bring snacks, appetizers, entrees, or desserts, as long as they emphasize good-quality real food (meat, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc.) and skip out on the bad stuff (processed sugar, gluten, etc.). We will supply utensils, plates, bowls, and paper towels. Bring your own beverage.

Food is fuel, and in order to fully achieve your health, performance, and body image goals, you need to dial in your nutrition. Unfortunately, exercise alone will not do the trick, and there is no such thing as out-training a bad diet. Here are three great resources about proper nutrition written by our very own trainers from CrossFit Charlottesville:

Nutrition Challenge Rules

  • Consult your doctor before you make any nutrition changes.
  • You must bring $20 in cash to the meeting on Sunday in order to participate. The money will be used as a prize pool for the winner.
  • If you want to enter the Nutrition Challenge, follow the guidelines exactly. There are no exceptions or “cheat” meals.
  • It starts Sunday and ends after 8 weeks.
  • On Sunday we will take a picture of you showing your mid-section. The winner will be the one who shows the best body recomposition (more lean muscle mass and less fat). Men will go shirtless for the photo, and women will be asked to wear a sports bra.
  • You need to enter everything you eat into FitDay for the first three weeks. Once a week, print out your FitDay information and bring the sheets into the gym to review with Scott.
  • Emphasize naturally-raised, organic, and pastured food as much as possible. Shop at Whole Foods, the Farmers’ Market, and the C’ville Market. Avoid processed food-like substances in the aisles by sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store.
  • Good: local, organic, or pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught fish, local or organic vegetables and berries, oils like coconut or olive oil.
  • Grey area: full-fat grass-fed milk and butter, whey protein, full-fat Greek yogurt
  • Bad: processed sugar, gluten, grains, alcohol, soda (even diet).
  • Supplements: fish oil (5 to 8 grams daily), multi-vitamin, vitamin D (5,000 IU per day), creatine (3 to 6 grams daily)

Calculating How Much to Eat

  • Take your body weight and subtract fat mass. For example, if you weigh 150# and have about 20% body fat, you have 120# of lean body mass.
  • Everyone will start out by eating 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (our example would eat 120 grams of protein per day). Based on general Zone guidelines, divide that number by 7 to estimate fat and carb macronutrient blocks. This gives us 17 blocks for our example.
  • Multiply by 9 for carbs and by 3 for fat; so roughly 150 grams of carbs and 50 grams of fat (which we will tweak later on in the challenge). This is not purely a science, but rather it is just a starting benchmark.
  • If you are looking to shed fat dramatically, you need to be eating under 100 grams of carbs per day. Under 50 carbs per day and you are going to be lethargic and your performance will decrease. You need to experiment, track, and dial things in based on your specific needs.

More Resources

Sunday Recipe: Pumpkin Soup

pumpkin soup from food network

(photo: FoodNetwork.com)

This week’s recipe is a submission from Lauren B. and has been burning a hole in my inbox for a few weeks now, so I’m glad to finally get to post it! Thanks to Lauren for putting her spin on this recipe from the Food Network Website.

“Somehow I stumbled upon this recipe for pumpkin SOUP and thought, “That sounds really gross. Why do I want to make this…”. But I did, and it actually turned out AMAZING.  I used dried spices (sage & italian herbs) and it was just fine. ”
-Words of encouragement from Lauren🙂

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 leek, washed and sliced into rounds
3 pounds fresh pumpkin flesh/1 small pie pumpkin **roast your pumpkin for 1 hr @ 350ish, scoop out flesh and use here**
2 teaspoons salt
3 bay leaves
4 cups chicken broth
1 sprig sage
2 to 3 sprigs parsley
1 sprig thyme
1/2 to 3/4 pound fresh sweet Italian sausage
In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and leeks. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin, salt and bay leaves and saute until starting to soften. Add the chicken broth and herbs. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender and broth is just beginning to thicken slightly. Once the pumpkin is tender, discard the herbs and puree the soup using an immersion blender.In a medium saute pan, brown the sausage. Using a slotted spoon remove the sausage from the pan and drain on paper towel. Top the soup with the sausage.

Sunday Recipe: Burger in a Bowl with Tostones

Burger Bowl


This is a favorite recipe for us when we’re in the mood for a burger and fries. While I prefer to cook this up during the summer months out on the grill, frying up your beef (or turkey) burger patties in a pan certainly will work just fine. On that note, feel free to use your “burger” of choice here – for these pictures I got some grass fed ground beef from JM Stock Provisions and made some very simply seasoned quarter pounders.

In this recipe I’m making a warm bacon vinaigrette and caramelizing my peppers and onions; however, you can feel free to use a dressing of choice and any combination of raw/cooked vegetables that you like.

For the tostones, we buy them as green/yellow as we can get them because we prefer them to be more starchy than sweet. In this context, we’re using them as a potato substitute rather than a dessert treat. If your tastes are different, feel free to go the more ripe direction🙂

Burger in a Bowl with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette (for 2):
Salad Greens (I love spinach, or 50/50 Spinach/Spring Mix for this)
4 Strips Bacon
1 Small Onion, 3/4 sliced, 1/4 chopped fine
1 Red Pepper, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped fine
Cider Vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
Coconut Oil

  1. Rinse and dry salad greens, set aside in a large bowl.
  2. In a large (preferably heavy) skillet, fry up the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels while reserving the rendered fat. Reserve about 2 Tbs of the fat in the pan and transfer the rest to another container.
  3. Set heat to medium and add the chopped onion to the pan and saute until translucent.
  4. Add the chopped garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant (~30 seconds).
  5. Deglaze the pan with cider vinegar, approximately as much volume as fat in the pan (~2 Tbs). Be sure to scrape up as many of the brown bits as possible, stirring constantly.
  6. Stir in dijon mustard and thoroughly combine.

Reserve this bacon vinaigrette in a ramekin or bowl and set aside (you’ll want to microwave it to warm it back up before adding to your salad).

  1. Return reserved bacon fat to the pan and add enough coconut oil to make about 1.5 Tbs.
  2. Reduce heat to low and add sliced peppers and onions. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are nicely caramelized and softened. Remove and set aside.
  3. Return heat to medium and cook your burgers to desired temperature.

When the burgers are done, microwave or otherwise warm the vinaigrette. Add as much as you prefer to the salad greens and toss to combine (I used about the whole thing for two large salads). Plate the salad, placing the burger on top and then finishing with caramelized vegetables and crispy bacon. Enjoy!

Plantains (approximately 1 per person)
Coconut Oil

  1. Heat your largest skillet on medium/high heat with about 2 Tbs coconut oil.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and slice the plantains in to 1/4 inch slices.
  3. Add plantains to hot oil (you may need to reduce to medium heat) and fry until golden on both sides.
  4. Remove and drain plantains. Using the bottom of a glass or mug, smash the plantain pieces into thinner medallions:


Add more coconut oil to the pan as needed. In batches, return the newly smashed plantain pieces to the pan and cook, again browning on both sides. As they are done, drain on a paper towel and immediately season with salt and pepper (they will stick better while there is still some hot oil on the plantains). Serve alongside the burger bowls, or just as is!

If you would like to time these two recipes to come out together, I suggest prepping the plantains while the peppers and onions are cooking. To fully cook two plantains takes a little longer than cooking up two beef burgers, so if you start to fry the plantains you can start the burgers around the same time and you should be OK:

20140110_182720Special thanks to Lex for her expert tostones skills! Usually we tag-team this meal and I’ll make the salad while she’s making tostones. This definitely makes the timing a little easier as you can get both done at the same time while still having a watchful eye on the level of doneness.

That’s all for the first post of the new year! Please keep the submissions coming and I’ll do my best to keep these posts on a regular schedule. As always, have fun and enjoy!

Sunday Recipe: Sausage and Brussel Sprouts with Beets

This recipe is a great way to enjoy fresh tasting brussel sprouts with some cold weather flavors. If you don’t have bulk sausage you can also uncase links and brown the meat just as easily. Also, feel free to scare your family members with beet juice-covered hands🙂



Bulk Sausage, 1-1.5 pounds (I prefer a spicy Chorizo, Andouille, or Italian)
Brussel Sprouts, about 3 cups
Beets, 2-3 large
Olive Oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the brussel sprouts, remove stems and cut into halves. Without the stems the leaves will easily fall off, but for this recipe that’s the goal. This prep step can take some patience, but it will significantly reduce the toughness and cooking time if the brussel sprouts are reduced in size.

Peel and dice beets into 1/2 inch pieces. Toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast 30-45 minutes until fork tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, add bulk sausage to a large pan on medium-high heat and cook through, stirring frequently until browned. Once sausage is cooked, stir one last time and reduce heat to medium-low. Add brussel sprout leaves and cover for 5-10 minutes, until leaves are bright green and softened. At this point, toss sausage and sprout together and keep on low heat, partially covered until your beets are done.



Serve up on a plate and enjoy!

Sunday Recipe: Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

pork photo

“I made it again, but I ate it all before I could take a picture, it’s that good!” -Jess

Our recipe post today comes from Jess Fink. Thanks very much to her for sending this in almost immediately after the announcement that the recipe posts would be starting up again. The above quote was direct from her at yesterday’s Christmas party🙂


I made this today:

And it was heavenly.
Ordinarily, I stay away from recipes that call for obscure spices that I will never use again. Luckily, Whole Foods carries the red Hawaiian sea salt that this recipe calls for in bulk, and beyond that, there’s only the pork shoulder, a couple garlic cloves, and a couple slices of bacon that you need to obtain.
spice photo
Basically, you line your slow cooker with bacon, rub the salt all over the pork, and let it sit for 12+ hours (depending on the size of your pork).
A couple notes:
– Make sure to use really good quality pork. I used a locally raised, bone-in beauty. Since it’s so simply seasoned, the flavor of the pork will definitely come through.
– Don’t cut off the layer of fat on the top of the pork. Slice into it to slide in the garlic cloves, but let the whole things cook with the fat present. You can shred it into the meat later, or just discard once it’s finished cooking.
– As the recipe indicates, do NOT shred the meat in the cooking liquid. What’s that? You didn’t add any cooking liquid? Good. You weren’t supposed to. I’m talking about the liquid that has oozed out of your hunk of meat during the long cook time. Shred the pork on a cutting board, taste to make sure it’s salty enough, and if not, spoon some of the cooking liquid over the shredded pork to adjust the seasoning.
– Definitely serve it with some sliced pineapple and oranges and maybe some wilted kale if you’re going paleo, or King’s Hawaiian bread if you’re not.

Sunday Recipe: Date and Nut Bars

Date and Nut Bars

I love having quick, healthy snacks at the ready during the week, but purchasing enough fruit and nut bars to last Lex and I can add up. I wanted to try to make my own, especially considering that our favorites only list 2-3 ingredients. With less than $10 spent on pitted dates and roasted cashew pieces at C’Ville Market I was able to make 16 large bars with only about 20 minutes of work. Another perk of making these at home is experimenting with new flavors!

Recipe (by weight):

3 parts Roasted, Unsalted Cashew Pieces (I’ve also used almonds or hazelnuts)
8 parts Pitted Dates
Pinch of sea salt

Use a food scale to measure out ingredients, then use a food processor to combine the dates and nuts:

Measuring DatesDates and Cashews

Test the consistency by pressing some of the mixture in your hand; if you can form a small ball by compressing the mix then you’re good to go! At this point you can stop and proceed to making cashew nut bars, or you can add some additional flavors to your own taste. Some examples:

Pumpkin Spice Bars:
Your Favorite Pumpkin Spice Seasoning
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Mocha Bars:
2 Parts Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Part Finely Ground Coffee (or instant coffee crystals)

Add spice or cocoa powder and coffee to taste, pulsing a few times with each addition to distribute evenly. I tend to add about 1 tablespoon at a time until I’m happy with the flavor.

To Form Bars:
Empty mixture onto a piece of parchment paper and press into a solid ball. Shape the mixture into a roughly rectangular shape, then cover with additional parchment paper and use a rolling pin to smooth to an even height of about 1/4-1/2 an inch (if making pumpkin spice bars, press pumpkin seeds into the top for some added crunch):

Unformed MixUncut Bars

Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until firm (approximately 1-2 hours or longer), then use a sharp knife to cut into desired bar size. Store these in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator, and enjoy!

Meats and cheeses... thats a good start

Meats and cheeses… thats a good start

Hey everyone, we’re going to be bringing the recipe page back to life and we’re hoping to get submissions and feedback from all members and trainers. At a minimum I will be updating the recipe page every other week, with my own recipes and recipes from around the web that I think are notable and should be brought to our community. If we receive recipe submissions I’ll be able to make posts more frequently.

On that note, submitting a recipe is really easy! Just write up a description and the recipe (including a picture of the dish is optional, but encouraged) and email it to me: Joe@crossfitcharlottesville.com. If you’re using a recipe from a published website or text, please include some citation information so that we’re able to give credit and link to the recipe originators. Feel free to add your own thoughts on a recipe, including tweaks or changes that you’ve made to improve or “paleo-ify” the original.

As for the types of recipes and posts, this will be tailored to an athletic diet, focusing (but not limited to) paleo items. However, we have a diverse community and would like to make this a useful resource for everyone, so feel free to submit anything pertaining to your own dietary style or training goals. I would also be happy to include posts on food preparation and presentation, again in an effort to educate and share within our community of CrossFit athletes.

I want to emphasize that this is a resource and tool to share culinary advice to everyone in our community. Making changes to diet can be the most challenging aspect of body recomposition (weight loss/gain, adipose to muscle conversion, etc.), and sharing tips and recipes among each other will hopefully assist in everyone’s endeavors to reach their own training goals. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so let’s strive to have fun in the kitchen with fresh, healthy recipes that reflect our shared active lifestyle.

Have fun and happy cooking!